Like father; Like Son
A film treatment
(With the expectation of an Indiana Jones 5 in the works I wrote this – feel free to use any of it, Mr. Spielberg)
Dr. Karl Schroeder is in a panic, rushing around his lab packing every thing he can as fast as possible.
German guards looking at him and his staff, while also conscious of the not-too-distant sound of Russian artillery.
Schroeder is conscious of it, too.
It means the Third Reich is coming to an end, and all his hard work will be lost unless he can somehow get it out of this place in tact.
But how does he sneak Germany’s most secret weapon out through the advancing arms of two mighty war machines?
If he goes East, the Russians will seize him and the weapon.
If he doesn’t West, the American or British or worse, the French will get their hands on it.
If only he had had more time.
Perhaps it was unwise for Hitler to have abandoned nuclear research in favor of this new, even more potent weapon.
But a few more months – perhaps years – the weapon would have done all Hitler’s war machine could not have, even if rumor of American research into nuclear weapons is true.
This weapon would scare even a nuclear-armed America.
So powerful, it still scares Schroeder.
He knows how to set it off, but not how to control its reach
And for this reason, he kept the exact progress of the weapon to himself.
The madman Hitler, bent on allowing Germany to burn in its noble defeat, might have unleashed it anyway, believing it would be better to destroy the world if he could not control it.
Just as he finishes up and his technicians have finished loading the trucks, the shadows shows of the wall of a man wearing a fedora hat and a whip at his belt.
The shadowy figure (Sam) tells Schroeder to give up.
There is rage in the man’s voice Schroeder knows too well, the tone of the righteous – this man seeking to bring justice to him.
The image of the slaughtered Jews and others from his lab flashes in front of Schroeder’s eyes, not out of guilt, but rather like a list of evidence he knows will be used against him in a war tribunal if he is caught.
Several guards come back to check on Schroeder, he orders them to shoot SAM.
In the confusion, Schroeder flees to the trucks and orders them to move along with their support.
He has to find some place to hide the weapon so he might come back and get it later, and he recalls a secret bunker in the mountains – if he roads between here and there are still open.
He also knows that the last ship out of the Baltic port won’t wait for him.
He must hurry.
On the road, he hears the cannon fire, and sees American fighters screaming across the sky.
Then, he sees a motorcycle charging towards the convoy from behind, and he knows it is Sam.
He orders the guard to stay behind and delay SAM as Schroeder leads the convoy to the hidden bunker.
Once the trucks are parked, he orders the drivers and technicians to assemble.
He shoots them all, then closes the disguised door, and drives off in the remaining car, reaching the dock just as the ship is about to leave.
He is on board with the ship already on its way, when SAM arrives at the dock on the motorcycle.
Schroeder waves in taunt, and tells himself a time will come when he shall return here to claim the weapon again and learn how to control its fury.
Then Germany will rise again.
A New York college Campus: 1955
Sam is day dreaming.
Flashes of the concentration camps come into his head.
Sitting in front of a class full of college kids, who are reading, he sneaks a bottle out of the bottom drawer.
It is empty.
His friend and head of the department comes to the door, frowns at Sam and the bottle.
Sam shoves the bottle back into the drawer and slams it shut, and tells the class to leave for the day.
Benson, the department head, tells Sam there are people here to see him.
Men from the government.
Both go into the lecture hall, where two stern men from the FBI greet them
They say the soviets are seeking the whereabouts of a top secret Nazi weapon, something so powerful it makes the H-Bomb look like a peashooter.
Sam wants to know what it has to do with him?
The agents say Sam reportedly once pursued the Nazi war criminal, Schroeder, who invented the weapon.
Pursued and lost him, Sam tells them, bitterly.
The agents say Sam can get a second chance to nab Schroeder, since the Nazi scientist has been spotted in Germany again.
The Soviets are on his trail, the agents say, America needs to get to Schroeder first.
Sam agrees to go to Germany
Then at home packing for the trip, he tells Benson always regretted allowing Schroeder to get away – a mass murderer who ought to have been brought to justice.
The idea that the Soviets – who are just as bad as the Nazi – should get the weapon appalls Sam.
He finds his gun, tosses it into his bag, his whip, tosses that in, then finds a full bottle of booze in the drawer.
He holds it for a moment, looks at Benson, puts it down
“I won’t need that,” he says.
New York City 1955
Dan – Sam’s son – gets a call from Mary, Sam’s estranged wife – saying she’s worried about Sam.
He’s dropped out of sight again, and she’s worried he’s gone on another one of his alcoholic binges.
She wants Dan to go find him and help him dry out.
Dan goes to Sam’s apartment and finds it torn to pieces and several Soviet agents still in the act of searching the place.
Dan and they fight, they beat him up and flee.
The police arrive and arrest him.
The two federal agents come to his cell and warn him against pursing the matter future.
Dan has no business involved with Sam’s affairs, they tell him.
A strange dark haired woman bails Dan out of jail, and tells him Sam is in terrible danger and his father will need Dan’s help.
This Dan finds sadly funny.
His father doesn’t need anybody. His father is superman. Everybody knows that.
The woman – Natasha – tells Dan he knows where Sam went and agrees to help Dan follow the trail.
Sam has good friends among the former resistance in Europe who owe Sam a lot for what he did in the war. They would certainly help Sam’s son.
Dan does not find this comforting.
Schroeder steps over the bones of the bodies he last saw ten years ago when he shot them.
The place is dank and dark, and has a hard time transferring the equipment from the old trucks into the van.
He is very nervous, and glances towards the closed door often, convinced that someone recognized him in the village.
He saw that look of recognition, even though Schroeder did everything possible to alter his appearance.
He is just finished his chore when he sees the shadow on the wall of the man with the fedora hat.
No ghost ever haunted Schroeder’s memory as this one did, and now, seeing him in the flesh again, causes him to panic.
He pulls out a gun and shoots at the shadows, hearing the bullets ring off stone not flesh.
He jumps into the van and tries to drive away, but headlights show a line of Soviet soldiers waiting with machines, blasting his van as he steers away.
SAM leaps onto the passenger side running board, and yanks open the door through the shattered glass. Schroeder turns the van sharply, once, twice, and then smashes the door into a pillar, tearing off the door and Sam.
Then he runs the van through the vanguard of soviet agents and down the road he’s driven before.
As with his last time, he has a boat to catch.
Unlike ten years earlier, he will be bringing the weapon with him.
He reaches the dock, has help unloading the equipment, and is on board and already set to sail when the Soviets arrive, carting with them their prisoner, Sam.
This time, Schroeder does not wave. He just stares at the figures as the ship hurries away.
Sam stares after the Nazi and the boat.
Images flash before his eyes of the camps again, and the empty, sometimes pleading eyes asking him for justice.
He knows Schroeder. He knows the doctor intends to bring back the horrors of that time, and now has the power to do so.
But now a prisoner of the Soviets, Sam is helpless to stop them.
Sam needs a drink
The Soviets drag Sam off to a waiting submarine. They apparently expected something like this and intend to get the weapon off the ship.
On board, Sam manages to break free, just as the sub reaches cruise ship.
He climbs onto the cruise ship, finds dry clothing, seeks out Schroeder.
He wants to kill the doctor then and there, but knows this is the only man in the world who knows how the weapon works.
Besides, Sam wants to see the man tried just like all the other bastards from the war.
He sends a radio message to Washington, telling them he has the doctor and weapon, and requests they come collect both.
Dan reaches Germany only to find out from the underground that the Soviets took him prisoner and that Schroeder escaped with the weapon.
He never wanted to chase his father – walk in those large foot steps, but now when he has to, he doesn’t know how he can.
He’s never felt so helpless in his life.
The resistance, however, tells him they may have a way to get him to the ship, and ask if like his father, he ever parachuted before.
The few hours later, he is on a plane with the woman, both have parachutes on, and they rush over the Baltic in pursuit of the plane.
Dan is scared, but strangely exhilarated.
Then, they leap out of the plane and following the instructions he received, he and she steer towards the deck, landing there.
He feels like a cat, and he’s ready to fight.
Schroeder stares at the wall of the cabin.
The dream of a new Germany just evaporated
And it’s all because of this fedora wearing Sam.
All Schroeder wants now is Sam dead,.
But Sam keeps asking him for the details on how the weapon works.
And won’t take Schroeder’s word when he says it doesn’t work, or not in a way anyone can trust.
Schroeder says he fears what would happen to the world if it ever got used.
Its power is in the threat of use, not actually being used.
But then, he begins to understand Hitler’s thinking at the end, and that wish to go down in glorious flames, taking all his enemies with him.
Schroeder agrees to show Sam how the weapon works, and then assembles it, bolting it to the ship hull – to keep it secure, he says – and then he activates it.
He tells Sam the world now has 24 hours left before it all comes to a glorious end.
Sam is outraged and order Schroeder to turn the weapon off.
Schroeder says he can’t, and would not even if he could.
At this point, Soviet solders burst into the hold, Sam fights them, Schroeder makes his escape.
The soviets grab Sam and demand to know the details about the weapon.
Otherwise, they will kill his son who they say they have hostage.
Sam asks for a drink.
He says Schroeder is the only one who knows about the device and they let him get away.
“I can’t turn it off, only the doc can,” Sam says.
The soviets assure Sam they will find him.
At this point, Dan arrives, surprising the soviets. He tells them to set Sam free.
At this moment, Natasha pulls a pistol on Dan and tells him to drop his weapon.
But Dan proves quicker than she, disarms her.
Sam grins, and says, he’s never felt prouder.
Sam says they have to disarm the weapon, but they need to find Doc first.
The soviets were right. Doc can’t go very far on this ship
But as they go, Natasha shoots Sam.
Dan shoots her, but not in time to keep Sam from falling.
It is a serious wound, and Sam seems dazed by it, just when Dan needs his father to figure out what to do next.
He drags Sam along, knowing he can’t care for his father and searched for the doctor at the same time.
Other soviets are on the ship and they are not in pursuit. Dan fights them, but there are too many to take a stance again.
He keeps thinking of the ticking bomb in the hold.
He is confused and desperate and feels he lacks any options.
What would Sam do in my place, he asks himself.
But he realizes he is has to decide things for himself.
He can’t let the bomb go off. He can’t let the soviets take possession of it.
He decides he has to hijack the ship and steer it as far away from land as possible.
Schroeder runs and hides.
It is as if ten years had not passed and he was again in Germany during those last hours when the Americans and Soviets closed in on him.
But this time they are running the 4th Reich, after all they did to ruin the 3rd.
If only he could learn more about the weapon, control it, then Germany would rise again.
But Schroeder is now so full of hatred and fear to believe anything any more. His belief was shaken in those days when Germany fell with all else false hope.
Everything will perish. The weapon will destroy mankind.
And it is all Sam’s fault.
He decides his last act must be to kill Sam. The weapon will take care of the rest of the world – although he does not know how powerful a blast it will make.
Maybe he should move the ship to a place where it will do the most harm.
What can it reach within 24 hours.
He decides on London.
Sam is lost in a sea of bad dreams.
He sees the camps again, and the faces of the half-starved, half-dead people staring at him, blaming him for not doing enough.
He is vaguely aware that he is on the bridge of the ship.
Then sees Schroeder appear, aiming a machine gun at Dan’s chest.
The doctor orders the captain to steer the ship towards London.
Sam thinks: the Nazis won after all. They’re going to do what they set out to do.
But the faces won’t accept any of that. They won’t let injustice follow injustice, and they shout at Sam to do something.
He waits, gathers his strength, and then when his opportunity comes, he leaps up, grabs Schroeder.
Dan grabs the machine gun just in time to greet the arriving soviets.
He orders the captain to turn the ship around – steer for open seas.
Sam passes out, leaving Dan to run the show.
The doctor continues to refuse to deactivate the weapon
The soviets are laughing at him, mocking him, saying “This is the great Sam’s son?”
Dan can’t figure out what to do next.
Even the Doctor mocks him, saying going out to open sea won’t save the world.
It’s not enough to do what is father would do, since Sam never faced a situation like this.
It is what should Dan do for himself.
I have to think for myself.
Maybe your weapon won’t destroy the world, Dan says finally. Maybe if the ship gets far enough out and warns enough other ships to get out of the area, we can save civilization.
He tells the captain to evacuate the crew, leaving everything on automatic. The Soviets and Doctor will stay with Dan as the ship.
Sam – who apparently regained consciousness – tells Dan to get off with the others.
“I’ll stay with the crew,” Sam says.
Sam says this is non-negotiable.
“I’m not going back to your mother to tell her I left you here,” he said.
Dan gets on the last life boat, and watches the ship vanish as the life boats reach the docks of London.
Here, Dan remains staring out to sea.
Suddenly, there is a huge glow, then a while later, a rumble, and then finally a wind, and Sam’s fedora blows up against his legs.
Dan picks it up, puts it on his head